- Department: History
- Module co-ordinator: Dr. Elizabeth Spencer
- Credit value: 20 credits
- Credit level: C
- Academic year of delivery: 2020-21
- See module specification for other years: 2018-19
What was life like for women in eighteenth-century England? Did they live a restricted existence controlled by fathers, masters, and husbands, or did they in fact exercise more agency than this in their day-to-day lives? These are the questions we will explore in this module as we move through some of the different stages in an adult woman’s life cycle, including marriage, pregnancy and childbirth, spinsterhood, and death. We will think about how different women experienced these stages, as well as what was expected of them by wider society. By doing so we will consider not just the importance of gender, but also the impact of socio-economic position on women’s lives, as we hear from individuals ranging from poor unwed servants to ladies at the head of their own household.
Women’s voices – and those of poorer women in particular – are often difficult to find, and we will therefore look across a range of sources in order to recover them. In addition to letters and diaries, we will consider some more unfamiliar sources like court records, ballads, wills, ‘how-to’ manuals, and printed images. The eighteenth century was a period in which a growing body of conduct literature stressed that women should be frugal, modest, and subject to the authority of men, but by exploring these different sources we will build up a richer and more complex picture of their everyday lives and experiences.
|A||Spring Term 2020-21|
The aims of this module are:
Students who complete this module successfully will:
Teaching will be in weekly 2-hour seminars taught over nine weeks, plus an overview and revision session in Week 2 of Summer Term. Each week students will do reading and preparation in order to be able to contribute to discussion.
The provisional outline for the module is as follows:
Introduction: Women and the life cycle
Women in service
Marriage and the household
Women, crime, and the courts
Menstruation, pregnancy, and childbirth
Women in business
Death: Understanding probate records
2. Overview and revision
|Task||Length||% of module mark|
During the Spring Term students will prepare a presentation in pairs or small groups. Tutors will determine the formative work for the course: all groups will present either on a primary source or on an assigned historiographical question. Formative work will be completed in one or more sessions at the tutor’s discretion.
An open exam in the Common Assessment Period, comprising one essay question chosen from five options.
|Task||Length||% of module mark|
The formative assessment is a group presentation and verbal feedback will be provided by the tutor in class followed by a written summary to each student within 10 working days. Students will have a 15 minute one-to-one tutorial to discuss the formative assessment and prepare for the summative assessment. For more information, see the Statement on Feedback.
For the summative assessment task, students will receive their provisional mark and written feedback within 20 working days of the submission deadline. The tutor will then be available during student hours for follow-up guidance if required. For more information, see the Statement on Assessment.
For term time reading, please refer to the module VLE site. Should you wish to do any preliminary reading, you could look at the following:
Vickery, Amanda. The Gentleman’s Daughter: Women’s lives in Georgian England. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1999.
Barker, Hannah, and Elaine Chalus, eds. Women’s History: Britain, 1700-1850. An Introduction. London: Routledge, 2005.
Coronavirus (COVID-19): changes to courses
The 2020/21 academic year will start in September. We aim to deliver as much face-to-face teaching as we can, supported by high quality online alternatives where we must.
Find details of the measures we're planning to protect our community.